Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's Log, Log! It's better than bad, it's good!

As I mentioned in my Summer List of Progress and Fun, I wanted to take a couple of fun classes.

I have been out of the school scene for about 5 years now and I can honestly say I don't miss the homework, the exams, the attendance and the fact that my grades, my degree, and ultimately my livelihood depended on those things.

But, I have always been a school person. I love school. I'm that kid who gets excited in the fall to buy new pencils and notebooks and can't wait to meet new people in my classes. In fact, when Lee and I were first married and I found out Lee didn't like school, I was incredulous. How can someone NOT like school?!?

So I have found myself trying to be in school after having finished school.

Why yes, I'm a nerd...why do you ask?


That's why I signed up for a Growing Gourmet Mushrooms class through Lifelong Learning at the University of Utah.

Our syllabus for the class

Isn't that SO cool! I have been wanting to learn how to grow my own mushrooms after I saw this TED talk. If you have about 15 minutes, it's totally worth a look-see.

Isn't that SO cool!

So I headed to Red Butte Garden for this class. This was our classroom off of the greenhouse and our teacher, Jennifer Nixon. She's into mushrooms!

Jennifer answering a question about mushroom care

These supplies were sitting at our work tables. A mallet? A hot plate? Paint brushes? What the heck?!?

Our equipment

We'd be inoculating a log with shitake mushroom mycelia--mycellia is like the root system of mushrooms. Jennifer taught us that this type mycelium is a decomposer, that's why we need a log--it's like food for the fungus. The log is self sustainable--this one log can be used for years and continue producing mushrooms!

Our future pet logs!

Jennifer had already drilled 20 different holes into each log in a diamond shaped pattern around the circumference of the log.

You can only see a couple holes at this angle

We were each given a bag of wooden pegs that had been turned and inoculated with mycelia. You can see in the bag that they're already starting to grow--fuzzy!

The inoculated pegs

With clean hands, we could handle the pegs as well as our logs. Then on to our mallets--we pounded each peg into a hole along the log.

After we pounded the pegs in, we had to seal off the pegs (and the ends and any scars) with some beeswax or soy wax. The wax is to keep anything out, so that the fungus "has a fighting chance".

Covered up in wax

I learned that it takes 6 months to a year to get your first flush (or crop) of mushrooms. That's a long time--longer than I was expecting! But, log-grown shitake mushrooms are more dense and meaty, thus more expensive in Japan than those that are grown on sawdust or coffee grounds.

Learning about proper care and maintenance of our logs

The last couple of things Jennifer talked about was care and maintenance. I am supposed to keep my log in the shade or indoors and water it one to three times a week for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Water my log?!?

So, I water my log. It's so weird.

It's SO weird.

Watering my log--I love my toenail polish right now.

So, Lee and I have a pet log now.  His name is "Miyazaki the Shitake." He's cute, huh?

Lee with our cute little log, Miyazaki the Shitake

We will keep you updated on how things go and when we get our first flush. Here is what it's supposed to look like eventually (from www.fungi.com where Jennifer had purchased the inoculated pegs):


On one last note, who remembers Ren and Stimpy's "It's Log by Blammo"?

Come on, raise your hands!

For those of you who don't know remember or even know what it is, watch this--you'll love it!

I feel like I own a "It's Log" now!

Okay, okay--last one for the road.

Welcome to the world, Miyazaki the Shitake Log!


  1. Wow! You never cease to amaze me Winter:) That is the coolest hobby/craft EVER! (I don't mean the gluing,cutting "craft":)

    1. Leave it to us to find random "crafts"!

  2. That is so cool!! And I totally remember that song from Ren and Stimpy - it started playing in my head as soon as I read the title of your post. :)

    1. Yay! I love Ren and Stimpy and I'm glad you remember it too.

  3. My grandma collected mushrooms in the woods near her house. The exact location of the patch was a closely guarded secret. Who knew that all she had to do was grow a few on a log! So much easier!! :)

    Stopping by from SITS.
    Stephanie Kay

  4. What a fun thing to do. I'm a lover of learning as well. I don't think you're weird at all. I love that you named your log.

    My son just got back from a basketball camp at U of U. What great things they make possible.

    Stopping by from SITS. Have a great weekend.


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